Senior Isaiah Hall has been singing since he was five years old. His love for singing inspired him to enter the DC-CAPital Stars competition this year.
Now, he has advanced to the final round of competition. He will perform at the DC-CAP Gala at the Kennedy Center on February 28 with a chance to win $10,000 in scholarship money. DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) is a nonprofit organization that encourages and helps students apply to and attend college. They offer scholarships and college help services to those in need.
“Every year there are auditions and the information comes from the DC-CAP office and they come to me to ask ‘are there students who would be interested,’ and I suggested Isaiah,” said choir director Lori Williams. “He’s a natural talent. Sometimes I can influence students based on giving them skills as far as vocal skills, but someone like an Isaiah has the gift already before he comes to see me.”
Hall, who is a member of Wilson choir, said that he “gained the confidence over [junior] year” to enter the competition this year. He hopes to gain experience performing in front of large crowds of people to prepare for a career in music.
The first step of the DC-CAPital Stars competition was to write an essay, followed by an audition session in which the participants got to showcase their talents for the first time. Hall sang “A Song For You,” which was originally recorded by singer Leon Russell in 1970 and has been covered by many artists since. Hall had listened to the version sung by Donny Hathaway in 1971.
“I blew them out, they really liked it, I got the email later on that day and they told me… I’d made it to the top forty,” Hall said. For the semifinal round, the contestants had another audition, which was recorded and posted online so that people could vote. On December 31, voting ended, and shortly after, DC-CAP posted the 10 people out of 40 who moved on to the final round.
When Hall found out that he had advanced, he was really excited. Up until the final performance, he and the nine other finalists will be attending weekly rehearsal sessions with producers of the gala. “When I go home, I’m just practicing what they taught me, so it’s just practice over practice until [the gala],” Hall said.
Hall comes from a family of singers. “My father, my uncle, all my cousins, they had a singing group back in the day, so I was just singing with them when I was younger,” he said. He now participates in his church’s choir in addition to Wilson’s.
Singing has now become an outlet for Hall. His favorite genre is soul, and some of his inspirations are The Temptations, Boys II Men, and Dru Hill. “When I’m singing, it’s like I’m expressing my emotions, so how you hear me sing is how I feel,” he said.
Both Hall and Williams are hopeful for the final round. “He made it [to the gala], so to be in that category, he’s won already,” said Williams.
Tickets are available for purchase on the Kennedy Center website, http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/RSXAT#tickets •